Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol

The United States has signed but not ratified the Convention, which means that the Convention is not yet recognized international law in the United States. It has not signed the Optional Protocol. The only other nation in the Americas that has not signed the Convention is Venezuela. The vast majority of nations in South America, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador and Peru have all ratified both the Convention and the Optional Protocol.

The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

The convention is a response to an overlooked development challenge: approximately 10% of the world's population are persons with disabilities (over 650 million persons). Approximately 80% of whom live in developing countries.

It is a response to the fact that although pre-existing human rights conventions offer considerable potential to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, this potential was not being tapped. Persons with disabilities continued being denied their human rights and were kept on the margins of society in all parts of the world. The Convention sets out the legal obligations on States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. It does not create new rights.

The Convention marks a paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities are not viewed as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection; rather as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention gives universal recognition to the dignity of persons with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol are available in English or Spanish.

Finally, we need the support of people across the Americas in pursuing this work. We have had several occasions to require additional legal support in our mission, and generally our legal staff requires financial support. Please take our appeal to your churches and civic organizations. No one else is doing the sort of continent-wide oversight that our agency does. In addition, because of our work in South America we were able to identify a demographic which needs assistance here in the United States and may be 'off the grid' as to traditional safety net protections during the Global Economic Crisis.

By helping others we have found problems here in the United States that are not adequately being addressed and we want to raise our voice wherever we find inequality. We also need your help.

We welcome the involvement of other media in telling our story. We welcome your donations, through the link below, in support of our work.

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We must not allow anybody to make us feel that we are born to live in poverty and deprivation, we must make it clear: we are going to live in dignity and honor.
-- Martin Luther King
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